The ultimate guide for parents on choosing the right menstrual cup for their daughter or teen.
Increasingly, we are hearing this question from parents -- Can teenagers use a menstrual cup?
If you’re lucky, you’ve already had a chance to use menstrual cups and be delighted yourself. Or perhaps you have personally missed that bus, but are curious about whether your teenager can use a menstrual cup. Maybe you’re a dad who wants to be equipped to have that discussion with your daughter. Whatever your specific situation, this blog is here to answer any questions you could possibly have about teenagers and menstrual cups. Read on!
We know that your primary concern as a parent is your child’s safety and comfort. To this end, the important thing is that you yourself first understand the ins and outs of menstrual cups. Asan has a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions which you can refer to. Head over for there for a full overview of menstrual cups, the Asan cup, cup sizes, insertion, cleaning, folds, removal, and using the cup with pre-existing conditions.
what is a menstrual cup?
In a nutshell, a menstrual cup is an insertable period product that collects rather than absorbs period flow. A single cup can be safely re-used for years, and is a highly affordable, eco-friendly alternative to other period products such as tampons and pads. The Asan cup comes in two sizes and we will talk about them shortly.
at what age does menstruation begin?
Menarche, or the onset of menstruation, begins on an average between the ages of 10 and 16. Once menstruation begins, the period, as the monthly menstrual cycle is called, occurs every 28 days on average, and lasts between 4 to 8 days. It is important to note that these durations are only an average, and vary according to the individual.
Also, once menstruation begins, it usually takes a few months or cycles for periods to regularize in length, flow, and frequency. It is important to address all this with your daughter or teen in order to tell them what the body undergoes. Let them know that this is entirely normal and in fact, the sign of a healthy human being.
what happens during a period? why do periods exist/why do they occur?
Menstruation represents sexual maturity, in that your teen is now biologically able to give birth to a baby. Every monthly cycle, the body releases an egg to be fertilized by a sperm. If fertilization occurs, the uterus provides nutrition and gestates the fertilized egg for nine months all the way up to the pregnancy, where the now fully developed baby is given birth to. In case there is no fertilization, the uterus sheds its (now unnecessary as there is no egg to take care of) lining and this exits the body as blood and tissue, constituting period flow.
To manage this period flow, most of us rely on period products – sanitary napkins, tampons, and increasingly, menstrual cups. The Asan menstrual cup is a hygienic, safe way of managing and disposing period flow as it collects it all internally and the flow is not exposed to the air – so it does not have a chance to be oxidized. This leads to numerous benefits, which include odour-free and rash-free periods.
what’s the inside story? where does a menstrual cup sit?
To visualize a period and the placement of menstrual cups, an understanding of anatomy is essential! This is especially true for teenagers, who typically experience rapid, more frequent bodily changes that can often be bewildering and confusing if left unaddressed. Let us jump right in.
The uterus (or womb) is a hollow organ within the pelvis. This is where the foetus develops and grows during a pregnancy. If there’s no pregnancy, the uterus sheds its lining on a monthly basis, constituting a period.
The cervix is the lowest section of the uterus, and it opens into the vagina.
The vagina (or birth canal) is the muscular canal that connects the uterus to the outside of a woman’s body. During a birth, the baby passes through the vagina. The bottom of the vagina is where a menstrual cup would sit.
Here’s a handy diagram (show it to your teen, too!)
are menstrual cups better than sanitary pads and tampons?
All products have their pros and cons, and since every period experience is unique, we believe that users should make their own informed decisions. That said, we’re happy to report that menstrual cups come with a range of health and convenience benefits, especially for teenagers and young girls. Here are a few of the benefits:
- Leak-free protection for up to 12 hours (it can be worn throughout the school day with no need to change)
- Sleeping comfortably all night
- Exercising, swimming, dancing and being active during periods
- No rashes, discomfort, odours or itching
- Affordable – one Asan cup replaces up to 2,500 tampons
- Reusable for 10 years and super eco-friendly!
Many teen users share that they love using the Asan menstrual cup so much, they completely forget that they are on their period. See the video below for first-hand feedback on our cup from teen girls.
okay, but cups are inserted inside the body -- that cannot be comfortable for my teen… can it?
We understand your concern. The Asan cup is made from smooth and flexible silicone, which means it can be folded into a tiny shape to insert (kind of like origami!). There are many folds to choose from – the Punch-Down Fold and the 7-Fold are popular with teen users as they make the insertion point small. Our menstrual cup folding guide gives step by step instructions on how to create each easy fold.
It is also worthwhile to bear in mind that like anything new, getting used to a menstrual cup would benefit from patience, practice, and some cycles of repeated use. Give it time! Also, ensure that the atmosphere is relaxed, as trying your cup in a hurry or when you are stressed out can cause your vaginal muscles to clamp up.
can my teenager use a menstrual cup for their first ever menstrual period?
If one is menstruating, one can use the menstrual cup. It is that simple! We have users aged 12 and above who are very happy using the Asan cup. Just bear in mind what we discussed regarding fold types, patience, and relaxed practice.
Also, while the Asan cup comes in two sizes determined by the heaviness of flow: light/medium flow and heavy flow, we recommend that teenagers who are just starting out with menstrual cups, begin with our light/medium flow cup. This is because its slightly smaller diameter allows for a smaller insertion point. Once comfortable with insertion and removal, your teen can switch to the heavy flow cup if at all needed. Our sizing guide gives more information on this.
Any teenager can use a menstrual cup, regardless of whether this is their first period, or they have used different period products previously.
what about the hymen?
We’re glad you brought that up! It is important to address misconceptions that your teenager may come across in popular culture about the infamous “hymen”. The hymen is made up of thin tissue that partially covers the entrance to the vagina. Some of us are born without a hymen, or our hymen has worn away before menarche; for others, the hymen may be slightly thicker or more elastic. If your teen’s hymen is still in place, then it may be stretched or torn by inserting a menstrual cup – but keep in mind that this is a totally safe and natural process, which happens to most of us at some point in our lives!
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the presence or absence of a hymen has no bearing on one’s virginity. Virginity is a social concept linked to having penetrative sex. It’s important to explain to your teen that using an insertable period product is completely unrelated to having sex. As they may hear conflicting information elsewhere, it’s important as a parent to be the one providing your teen with safe and accurate information!
ok, i’m on board with the idea of giving my teen a menstrual cup. what are some ways to make the experience or transition smooth?
An excellent question. We love best practices! Here are a few things to make the process comfortable and indeed, confident for your teen:
- Encourage patience and gentleness with cup trials. Even older users take a few tries to get used to the cup, so it’s normal for your teen to need some time.
- Experiment with different folds together and find the best fit.
- The first few times, ask your teen to use the cup at home or in a comfortable environment – not when going out or to school. That way, they can try it with confidence as they are in their own space.
- Have a backup sanitary pad ready at hand. If your team is struggling or needs some more time, it’s important to give them the option of using a pad.
- Don’t give up faith. Many of our users tell us how it took them more than one attempt to get insertion and removal right, but now that they have aced cup usage, they wouldn’t consider any other alternative.
- Talk to someone! It is extremely helpful for teenagers to have access not only to information, but also existing users of menstrual cups. This ensures that they can discuss individual scenarios and understand the challenges (and comforts!) to look out for.
are there more resources regarding menstrual cups I can point my teenager in the direction of?
Absolutely. We recommend that once you have read this and had a conversation with your teen about menstruation, their bodily changes, and menstrual cups, you guide them to this article written specifically for them. Once they’ve read it, encourage them to come back to you with any questions.
Should they stump you with a question you don’t have an answer to, the gynecologist is your best friend. And of course, we’re right here with you on your journey to the best periods ever. Contact us here for anything else at all, we are always happy to help!